Sunday, 22 August 2010

GWR 'Light Prairie' 5542

The Battlefield Line hired in 'Light Prairie' 5542 to run the service during the summer weekends and she has proved popular with customers and operating staff alike. As a further attraction, the trains have included a preserved observation car.

Because of other commitments (like my Arctic Adventure) my chance to try out this engine came on Sunday 22nd August. Carl was fireman and Sam cleaner. 'Pockets' came with us on a couple of trips.

Although I've been fortunate in working on a number of GWR locomotives, this was a first 'Light Prairie' I've been on (I did have a fairly exciting run firing 'Big Prairie 4160 on the West Somerset some years ago but that's another story).

I'd forgotten that the design was introduced as early as 1906 (although 5542 is a later build). George Jackson Churchward was Dean's deputy for a number of years before becoming CME and in that time he had started to formulate his policies for equipping the Great Western Railway with the finest motive power possible. In a flurry of activity after he took over, Churchward laid down the templates for locomotive design which served the railway for years to come.

Well, we had a grand day running five service trains to Shenton and back and 5542, as expected, steamed freely and performed willingly. I'll tell you more when I can.

My pictures are here.